Photo: Chris Beikirch/cbvideomarketing – lespecial: (from left) Rory Dolan, Luke Bemand, Jon Grusauskas
Progtronic trio lespecial leans into the heavier side of its multi-hued personality on Odd Times, the group’s fourth LP, out today. The album is a surly snapshot of the maniacal minds and musical evolution of three childhood friends and bandmates, making no bones about just where this squad feels most liberated and lethal.
Conceived within the perilous pause of pandemic uncertainty, written collectively as a unit, recorded and produced with a pummeling potency, Odd Times is undeniably heavy metal music and lespecial’s most malevolent creation thus far. As the band explained in a statement, “Odd Times is our darkest, heaviest record to date. Yet, within that darkness there is light and levity to be found. Much of the music was written during quarantine, and while some of it reflects the isolation and catastrophobia of that period, the themes on this album pertain more to the constant changing of time.”
The new album arrives about a thousand days after 2020’s masterful Ancient Homies, which marked a clear maturation in lespecial’s sound, reaching higher heights, digging deeper wells, and ascending to a rarified air. lespecial’s latest platter is another heaping slab of ecstatic, passionate dark art, albeit with a decidedly more sinister edge. Jonny Grusauskas (guitar, keys, vocals), Luke Bemand (bass, vocals), and Rory Dolan (drums, vocals) continue to communicate via kinetic and telepathic energies as heaviness and momentum manifest through brilliant composition and emphatic execution.
The influence of longtime friend and collaborator David Sanchez, the guitarist from Havok, as both producer and engineer is palpable throughout the album’s nine compelling tracks. There’s an immediacy—an intimacy, even—to the texture of the production. Sanchez lures the trio to into further exploring new topography, guiding elemental tributaries into robust concoctions. Subtle, intelligent guitar-and-bass dialogues between Jonny and Luke, paired with militantly-tight, tribal beats from Rory, are ably assisted by Sanchez’s input and touch.
“Working with Havok frontman David Sanchez in a producing role, we challenged ourselves to come up with our heaviest riffs and instrumental interlocking yet,” the band said in a press release that accompanied this summer’s leviathan lead single, “Lungs of the Planet”.
A bludgeoning listening experience packed with idiosyncratic instrumentals, Odd Times finds these three amigos waging a holy war to slay all the giants, delivering a tornado of punishing blows for what feels like a seemingly endless moment, building a slew of imposing grooves into moving monoliths of melancholy and menace. “Lungs of the Planet”, “They Live”, and “Fear the Djinn” all illuminate a unit hellbent on steamrolling your frontal lobe.
The furious styles are occasionally tempered by lighter fare, from flirtations with moving pictures (“Rays”) to shoegaze dream pop (“Divider”, itself a reprise of Ancient Homies’ “Repeater), ambient jazz-scapes (“First Light”) to gravity-bong tokes from a two-liter pork soda bottle (“Del Mondo Strangewich”).
“It’s dark. It’s heavy. It’s cerebral. It’s cinematic. There are songs about horror movies, the end of the world, new beginnings. About our innate ability to band together in times of darkness to find a common light,” bassist Luke Bemand wrote on Instagram just before the album dropped.
For a band that’s previously been somewhat defined by its influences (Primus, Radiohead, NIN, Tool, etc.), lespecial takes a self-assured step toward furthering its own definitive style with Odd Times. Yes, one can occasionally catch a whiff of Death Angel’s frenetic thrash, the funk-metal bump of 24-7 Spyz, or even the obtuse cacophony of Voivod here and there, but the homages, nods, and references are far less on-the-nose than on the band’s previous efforts. In fact, they are likely more coincidental than intentional this time around.
Throughout the new document, lespecial mostly sounds like… well, lespecial. Powered by all-swallowing riffage and thundering drums, this new set is keen to switch up rhythms or flip the mathematics, making for some deliciously “odd times,” indeed. Fans can only salivate about how the band will rage this untamed, visceral new material in the live setting: onstage, where lespecial shines brightest and sounds most brutal.
Listen to Odd Times, the new album from lespecial, on the platform of your choice here or listen via the Spotify player below.
lespecial – Odd Times – Full Album
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